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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance

Hi Vera,
Respectfully !
1.  "developmentally co-constructed process" does contain the bigger share of the truth . But...
2. The other side to "The newborn is not awareof a conscious self" is that it is aware of some other things . The problem is with the very 'being aware' for a newborn . It does not seem to be logical . The whole thing Vygosky and his followers tried to do was to put some thing between the two components of the formula Stimulus =====> Response . Else what do we have to answer Vygotsky on his refutation of reflexology , reactology , etc. 
3. I think Vygotsky also uses 'feelings' of pain , hunger , comfort , etc. Are not these 'reflexes' common to both animals and humans ? Having said this , can we put the question "With respect to the genesis (ignoring its being innate) of consciousness , is it a matter of leaps and bounds or gradience ?
4. Then , we are left with "Eye-motion coordination" which takes us to the idea that with so many things we know about the so-called 'intelligence?!' of the animals , birds , etc. , could we specify it to just human beings . 
5. I got very pleased with the "add up to  thebeginnings of consciousness" . This helps a lot . But out of Vygotsky's 'emotions' I could not gather exact terms for the points on a continuum if any . amorphous what , intellect , irritability ?? 
6. If you are so kind to think of this also :
a. you drive quite skillfully thinking of the xmca or whatever .
b. You drive while the officer is testing you for certificate .
c. You drive focusing on the manner you are driving with .  
      From: Vera John-Steiner <vygotsky@unm.edu>
 To: "'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> 
 Sent: Monday, 24 November 2014, 16:34:24
 Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance

I just would like to add a postscript to the discussion on consciousness and
that is that what we experience as adults
is a developmentally co-constructed process, and that so much of it is the
consequence of early exchanges. That is why(among
other reasons) it is so dynamic and open to change. The newborn is not aware
of a conscious self,but of pain, hunger, comfort,
all of which, together with eye-motion coordination, add up to  the
beginnings of consciousness. Or that is how it appears to me.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin John Packer
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 4:11 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance

Well I think we are generally in agreement, Andy. However, there are some
points of difference that it might be worth exploring.

First, from the fact that consciousness is fallible it does not follow that
consciousness is completely an illusion.  If that were the case, how could
one come to judge its fallibility? How can you state with certainty that "My
consciousness is an illusion"? No, consciousness is incomplete, and partial,
but it can also be educated. Importantly, consciousness can come to know
itself. And since I know the world not only from what I experience directly,
in the first-person manner, but also from what others tell me and from what
I read, I can become aware of the limitations of my own consciousness in
this manner. (Consciousness is both natural and social, as I mentioned in a
previous message.) I know, these are also given to me in my consciousness,
but I don't see that any insuperable problems arise as a consequence. Unlike
Descartes, I don't believe that an evil demon is bent on deceiving me.
Consciousness is our openness to the world, as Merleau-Ponty put it.

Second, since consciousness is personal, I have to make inferences about
another person's consciousness. (With the exception of a few occasions of
experiencing things together with another - like dancing salsa!) However, I
also have to infer that, and rely on the fact that, my own consciousness is
a material process. My own consciousness can be, and often is, outside my
consciousness - this is, in a nutshell, LSV's argument in Crisis. In just
the same way I come to learn that my digestion is a material process. I come
to learn that my life itself is a material process - there is no 'life
spirit' that animates me. Both life and digestion are, like consciousness,
first-person processes, and nonetheless material processes. Perhaps I am
helped in coming to these conclusions by observing other people, whose
processes of living and digesting I cannot experience directly. 

Where is the paradox here? It seems to me the paradox lies with those who
say that experience is all in the mind, and yet at the same time that we can
know the world. That was Descartes' paradox, and it remains the paradox,
unresolved, of most of contemporary social science.


On Nov 24, 2014, at 5:48 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> I'll try to explain it my way, why "consciousness is a material process"
despite the fact that "matter is what exists outside of and independently of
consciousness" as you say, Martin.
> In 
> https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a
> .htm#A Marx said "My relation to my environment is my consciousness" 
> although he crossed it out in the manuscript. But why did he suddenly
introduce the first person pronoun here?
> Everything I know of the world, in any sense of the word "know," I know
through my consciousness, but my consciousness is an illusion, a phantom,
and fundamentally different from that which is outside my consciousness and
reflected in it. Nonetheless it is what I use to determine my actions in the
world. I do not act exclusively through conditional reflexes like a simple
organism as an immediate material process, but on the contrary, mediate my
relation to my environment through my consciousness, which I learn, is not
100% reliable, because it is just an illusion, but is reliable enough and in
any case is more effective thanks to socially constructed mediation, than
nervous reflexes.
> But *your* consciousness is also outside my consciousness, and therefore I
must regard it as material, and if I am to get to know it, I rely on the
fact that it is a material process, arising from your behaviour and your
physiology, and although *like anything* I cannot have unmediated access to
it, I can learn about it only through material interactions, the same way in
that sense that I learnt your name and age.
> But you are of course in the same position. A world of phantoms and 
> illusions is all you have to guide your activity in the material 
> world, too. Vygotsky says that the confusion arises "When one mixes up 
> the epistemological problem with the ontological one". That is the 
> relation between consciousness (an illusion) and matter 
> (interconnected with all other processes in the universe) is actually 
> an epistemological one, that is, of the sources and validity of 
> knowledge, and not an ontological one, that is a claim that 
> consciousness is something existing side by side so to speak with 
> matter. So it is important that while I recognise that for any person 
> the distinction for them between consciousness and matter is 
> absolutely fundamental, I must regard their consciousness as a 
> material process, explainable from their physiology and behaviour. 
> This is not a trivial point. Consciousness is not neuronal activity. 
> Neuronal activity is the material basis, alongside behaviour, of 
> consci
 ousness, but the world is not reflected for me in neuronal activity, which
I know about only thanks to watching science programs on TV. Consciousness
is given to me immediately, however, and I am not aware of any neuronal
activity there.
> So yes, what you said was right, "consciousness is a material process,"
but I think it unhelpful to leave it as a paradox like that. And I admit it
is unhelpful to be rude. Perhaps we both ought to exercise more restraint?
> Andy
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> Martin John Packer wrote:
>> Don't get your point, Huw. A rectangle is generally defined as having
unequal sides, in contrast to a square, so that's not helping me. Obviously
(I would think) I am not saying that consciousness is the entirely of
>> Perhaps you can help me in my struggle...
>> Martin
>>>> Andy,
>>>> I don't see that being rude advances the conversation.  When I 
>>>> assert a position here in this discussion I try to base it on an 
>>>> argument, and/or in sources that we all have access to. I'm 
>>>> certainly not trying to cloud any issues, and I don't think that 
>>>> arguing from authority (one's own assumed) dispels the clouds.  I 
>>>> guess I simply don't have access to "a whole tradition of science."  
>>>> :(
>>>> To respond to your other message, yes, I am arguing that 
>>>> consciousness (and thinking) are material processes. They are 
>>>> consequences of (certain kinds of) matter in (certain kinds of) motion.
>>>> Against whom am I arguing? I am arguing against all those 
>>>> psychologists who argue that consciousness (and thinking) are 
>>>> mental processes - processes which they believe take place in some 
>>>> mysterious realm called "the mind" that is populated by "mental 
>>>> representations" of the "world outside." I deal with people who 
>>>> make this argument on a daily basis. They believe that the proper
object of investigation for psychology is "mind,"
>>>> and so they have no interest in setting, or culture, or practical 
>>>> activities.
>>>> Yes, Haydi's message is the portion of Crisis that I pointed to in 
>>>> my last message.
>>>> Martin